The “Struggle” to Love Our Children

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After six months, my life as a stay-at home-mom has become normal now.  And with that normalcy has come some personal challenges.

Of course, I’m still extremely grateful to be home.  That gratitude strikes at the most surprising times.  Like when I go to set my alarm for the next morning and I flash back to how many times I did that preparing for a new day at work.  Like when I drink my coffee and read my Bible at sunrise, and I remember what it was like preparing for my day away from my kids, compared to now preparing for my day with them.  Oh yes, I’m extremely grateful.  I can’t imagine life any other way.

Yet in my heart looms echoes of my past, of my personality that didn’t get left at the office.  My task-oriented, to-do-list obsessed self is still alive and well, and she’s also struggling with this new world.

My mind is consumed with achieving the tasks of the day.  I must keep the laundry caught up. I must keep the kitchen cleaned.  I must do today’s indoor tasks. I must do my garden tasks.  I must get dinner made. I must….

In my mind, I think that once I complete my tasks, THEN, I can spend one-on-one time with the children. Until then, they are just two more tasks that must be controlled managed.  But guess what? If today happens to be a good day and I complete the tasks I set out to do, and I happen to sit down and give my undivided attention to my kids, my mind wanders and I realize what tasks still need to be done.

The tasks are endless.

And I’m left with a feeling that I’ll never keep up. I’ll never complete it all.  And at the end of the day, I’ll have spent one more day in the presence of my children but not “with” them.

And then, oh yes, to compile even more guilt, the voices of moms gone before me echo in my mind.  They grow up so fast.  The house can wait. They are only young once.  Cherish every moment.

I don’t have to be reminded of that.  Not a day goes by that I don’t remind myself that someday I’m going to wish with all my might that I had these days back.  But I simply can’t turn off my task-oriented nature.  I’ve tried.  I’ve tried some more. And I fail every. single. time.

I’ve wondered why those reminders of how fleeting these years are don’t help.  I’ve wondered why I can’t hold on to the realization that I’ll never get this day back with my children and choose the better thing.

Sure, I drink up when my daughter says the sweetest things, when she lavishly offers hugs and kisses.  I linger a little longer when I see in my son a compassion like no other, or when I see a sense of responsibility taking root in his heart.  Oh yes, I relish these moments.

But when those moments in themselves don’t overpower my obsessive need to complete my to-do list, when those moments don’t paralyze me to sit with my children in the floor and just watch them for a long period of time, I wonder what’s missing.

I think I’ve found it.

Just as my obsessive need to control everything around me is, at its core, selfish, perhaps when we pour our entire being to relish every moment with our children because we’re afraid of what we’ll feel like a decade later, that is self-serving as well.  We look ahead to years down the road and we want to be able to say, “I have no regrets. I cherished every moment.”  We let fear paralyze us – fear that someday we’ll be the ones telling the younger women, “they grow up so fast. Enjoy it,” because we wish we had enjoyed it more.

But let me speak as a younger woman with no life wisdom here when I say, I don’t think my motivation in parenting should be fear that I’ll have regrets of not enjoying every moment. Yet I am afraid that in our children-obsessed culture (to the point of idolatry I’ll venture), it has become exactly our motivation,  for both at-home and working moms alike. And it’s selfish.

My motivation should be love for my children.  Trying to control them so I can get my to-do list done is not love.  But neither is revolving my life around them so I won’t have regrets.  That’s selfishness with an appearance of love.

So how am I going to choose to love my children today? For starters, I’m going to finish up this blog post without a neat ending, because my daughter is awake now and I can feel my obsessive nature wanting to complete it perfectly before I start my day with her.

And I hope that in the rest of my day, I can choose the better thing and love them – not for my benefit – but for theirs.

1 Corinthians 13
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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7 thoughts on “The “Struggle” to Love Our Children

  1. As a widowed grandmother, I can understand all your feelings here. When you work away from home, you occasionally finish one project before the next one begins. At home you never get completely caught up; another task is always waiting.

    I just want to add that eventually the best memories you will have of those days will be just hearing your children’s voices and the times spent together. That doesn’t mean you can’t also get your chores done. This is the best time to teach them how to be task oriented and to realize that work done together goes much faster. (I know when they’re young, it may be easier and faster to “do it yourself”. Your Mom probably thought the same thing. I now miss those extra hands and younger legs…almost as much as I miss the conversation and sharing ideas! I wish I had a video tape of some of the enlightening conversations I had when mine were young…like “Mom, where does the fire go when you blow out the match?” and for breakfast, I want “Ethiopian Eggs” (that turned out to be “easy-over eggs”)! That child (one of my four) grew up, then died in 2006 at age 40.

    God is still working on me. I’m still here, and know He has plans for me. I’m glad He still wants to spend time with me everyday. I couldn’t get through this life without HIM! Blessings to you and your family.

    • Thank you so much, Linda, for sharing. It makes me realize that I will appreciate the little moments that will become precious memories, despite my feeling that I may not do enough.

  2. Thank you for this post. It’s nice to know others are going through the same struggles. I don’t get to stay home with my kids but I find myself with these same thoughts frequently.

    • I do think these struggles are the same for working moms, perhaps even more since time is shorter to get things done on top of feeling you have to take advantage of all the time you are at home to be “with” them. The pressure we put on ourselves can be unbearable at times.

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